Imagine stepping off the trail to take a photo of a unique wildflower when you suddenly feel a prick on your ankle. You look down to see the tail end of a snake slithering away. What just bit you? If you are not sure, you will probably want to get to a medical facility as soon as possible. Here in the United States, medical facilities and hospitals are equipped with antivenom. In other countries, especially in rural areas, there either are not any local medical facilities or none that carry antivenom. There are also a wide range of snakes that don’t have antivenom. Let’s take a look at 8 of the dangerous snakes that don’t have antivenom.
1) African Bush Viper
The African bush viper is a venomous snake found in the central and western countries in Africa. They are arboreal snakes, meaning they prefer to hang out in trees. These snakes live in the tropical rainforests and do not come in contact with humans very often, which is good because there is no antivenom for the African bush viper. They can get to be 2 ½ feet long and are bright green, red, orange, or yellow. Their scales are spiky, giving them a dragon-like look.
In April of 2021, a zoo employee at the San Diego zoo was accidentally bit by an African bush viper. The victim was rushed to the nearest hospital for evaluation and medical care. The venom of the African bush is a hemotoxin, so it slows blood clotting, destroys red blood cells, and can cause tissue damage and internal bleeding. A later report stated that the worker was recovering at home and should make a full recovery. Severity of bites can depend on the age of the snake, type of bite and other factors.
2) Spiny Bush Viper
Similar to the African bush viper, the spiny viper is usually green with spiky scales that stick up. They can grow to be 2 feet to 2 ½ feet long and live mostly in trees. They can be found in the eastern and central countries of Africa in swamps, woodlands and tropical rainforests. There is no antivenom for the spiny bush viper and their venom is a neurotoxin which can cause internal hemorrhaging of organs. Because the spiny bush viper lives in secluded areas, bites on humans are extremely rare.
3) Malayan Blue Coral snake
The Malayan blue coral Snake is a beautifully colored snake with a bright red head and tail, dark blue back and bright blue side stripes. They are a medium-bodied snake that can grow up to six feet long. These snakes only live in South East Asia and their numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss. The venom of the blue coral snake acts fast and immediately produces a full body spasm and paralysis. They have the longest venom glands of all snakes! Why do they need such potent venom? Because they eat highly venomous snakes like the king cobra. They need strong venom to paralyze and kill these other snakes.
4) Monocled cobra from West Bengal
The problem with the antivenom in India is that there is one generic antivenom used for almost all venomous snake bites. A recent study from the Indian Institute of Science showed that “the big four” antivenom, made from the venom of four of the most common venomous snakes in India, are not effective in all regions of the country. Studying the venom from different snakes from different regions showed new results that dictate the need for more specific antivenom.
The monocled cobra from West Bengal area was found to have venom that was 3 times more neurotoxic than the common cobra. As a neurotoxin, it affects the nerve tissues of the victim. Cobras have a hood that they can expand making their head look much larger. The monocled ones have an O-shaped oval marking on the back of their hood. They are typically dark brown to black in color and can grow to be 3-5 feet long.
5) Monocled cobra from Arunachal Pradesh
The monocled cobras from the Arunachal Pradesh area in North eastern India is another venomous snake that researchers studied. They found that the venom of these snakes were extremely cytotoxic with more than five times the cytotoxins found in the venom of the common cobra. Cytoxins affect the cells of the body and can lead to tissue necrosis leaving a large open sore. The problem with cobra bites like these is they can often leave a victim with life-long injuries, disfigurement and disabilities.
6) Sind Krait
The Sind Krait which lives in the western part of India is a venomous snake that belongs to the cobra family. Kraits (pronounced like “krites” rhyming with kite) are land snakes that have 12 different species. They can be a variety of colors and grow to be 6 ½ feet long. They frequently live near humans, hence why there are a large number of snake-human conflicts with kraits. The most disturbing thing is that kraits will sneak into people’s homes, huts, and living quarters at night and bite people while they sleep!
Researchers found the Sind krait’s venom is 40 times more potent than that of the common cobra! Sind kraits are also common in rice patties which make bites to rice patty workers more common as well.
7) Sochurek’s saw-scaled viper
A recent case of a snake breeder that was bitten by a Sochurek’s saw-scaled viper shows how there needs to be more specific antivenom created. There was not an antivenom specifically for Sochurek’s saw-scaled and the man needed 20 vials “to cease acute symptoms of systemic envenoming.”
Sochurek’s saw-scaled vipers are smaller snakes, about 1-3 feet in length. They are tan with dark brown markings and blotches. Saw-scaled vipers, in general, are believed to be responsible for the most snake bites in the world. In India, there were a total of 808,000 venomous snake bites reported between 2001-2014. The death rate was 4.8 per 100,000.
8) The African Twig Snake
The African twig snake gets its name from its shape and coloration that makes it look like a twig. They are an arboreal snake, living in trees in South Africa and other southeastern African countries. Sometimes called the Southern Vine Snake, these snakes are very venomous, causing hemotoxic effects, including uncontrolled bleeding and decreased clotting abilities. They can get to be 48 inches long and have a long skinny body that looks like a twig. They have orange markings on either side of their head and can puff their head up when they feel threatened. Instead of cat-like eyes, they have a strange keyhole shaped pupil. Don’t be surprised by their bright red tongue!
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